He Gasped for Syrup?

Following is Jerry’s critique, but I must explain the symbology I used to show what he eliminated, reworded, etc.

Underline – eliminated words.
(Bold) – Jerry’s comments
(sp) – spelling error with correct word afterward
Italic (except the first paragraph) – reorder the words.
(Bold and italic) – word replacement and/or addition
(on the nose) – A Hollywood term for writing that exactly mirrors real life without adding to the story.

God help me! I’m drowning! (Telling)

The blue water engulfed Larn Wintel, and with what seemed an intelligent (to) purpose(ly) it pulled him down into the dark. The light above wavered and disappeared,(thus the dark) but (sp)the more he struggled the faster he sank. The pressure increased and his body grew stiff and cold (on the nose). He called out once again to God, but perceived no answer (Don’t tell what doesn’t happen). His heart thudded and his lungs burned—

Larn jolted awake, his body (what else?) drenched in sweat. He sat up and gasped for air (what else would he gasp for? Syrup?) as his eyes darted about to determine his surroundings.(comma)

He sighed with relief(ved) to find he was still in his bedroom (had been only dreaming), but his breath caught (again) when he saw the figure standing at the foot of his bed.

Thinking it nothing but a phantom of his nightmare, he studied the person standing within the soft moonlight streaming through the gossamer drapes of his tall windows. Though she wore loose black pants and (a) tunic, she was obviously a woman. With her short stature (,) and (she looked short and) lithe figure he assumed her to be (as) a mere teenager, b(. B)ut her large and dark eyes revealed a hardness of heart of someone much older.

He then felt the pressure in his mind.

The woman (This) was no phantom.

He tried to shrink away (I’d like to see anyone try to shrink away in a bed) and call for help, but her telepathic hold on him kept him pinned and silent.

His chest felt compressed and h(H)e struggled to breathe(,) once again. He fell (falling) back, his strength and will to fight dissolving. He felt no anger, no despair, only regret for a girl who had been abused and exploited in ways he alone made possible.

His past (I hope they were past) sins had finally caught up to him, and they demanded justice.

Using the last of (With) his (last ounce of) strength, he lifted his head and stared into her now surprised (POV) eyes.

"Take the book," he whispered through pain-filled gasps. "O(o)n my nightstand. Computer, too. Please. Read them. Understand. I’m so terribly sorry."

She blinked, but otherwise her hold on him didn’t waver.

His heart stopped moments later, and Larn Wintel took the last breath of his life. (Got it)


Only after Doctor Wintel breathed his last did Kallie Gartew realize she held her own (Her own what? Breath?)


Whew! I hope that all makes sense. If not, you can read the edited version here: "Traitors

The reason I balked at my spelling error is because an earlier submission contained two and Jerry jumped on them.

“Even in a 500 page book,” he said, “it’s expected to see about a dozen spelling errors. However, for a new writer seeking a publisher or agent, the first five pages have to be perfect. It shows the writer is either lazy or sloppy, and the editor will send out a standard rejection form without reading another page.”

When Jerry finished the first page, he stopped and said, “This isn’t a bad story. Here the man wakes up from a nightmare to find a figure at his bed. This is scary.”

Several people behind me said, “Yeah. I wanted to keep reading.”

I danced on the inside hearing that. However, although my meeting with Zondervan wasn’t negative per se, I wondered if I should shelve my book for a while. I worried that my book wasn’t publish worthy, both in writing and in storyline. Jerry and the other comments affirmed that my story is indeed worthy to be read by others – if not yet ready.

When he finished a lady leaned over and whispered, “I wonder if the man was an abortion doctor.”

I whispered, “Sort of.”

She gasped (for syrup) and said, “That was yours?”

“It is.”

She laughed and said, “You’re only admitting it because he said he liked it.”


“Is he really an abortion doctor?”

“Actually, he’s a geneticist.” That piqued her interest even more, which was cool.

Jerry’s edits eliminate mostly excess verbiage. Once I rewrite it, I will end up with a more concise and active story. Hopefully I will remember his suggestions throughout the rest of the manuscript.

That’s not to say I agreed with every one. Jerry even said editing is subjective, and we can take or leave them. Mostly the workshop is designed to teach us how to look out for and eliminate wordiness.

Tomorrow I will discuss what I learned from the two magazine editors. Thursday will focus on what I learned in the other classes and workshop, and Friday I will talk about the spiritual component of the conference. That’s the plan anyway. So my entries don’t get too long, I may stretch them out over the weekend.

4 thoughts on “He Gasped for Syrup?

  1. Hey Andra:
    Wow! That had to have been a trip! What blows my mind is having to do that to every page we write! Thanks for sharing. This workshop was one of my favorites. I learned so much!


  2. Hi Diane!
    Thanks for stopping by. The workshop definitely shows how all writers consistently make the same mistakes.
    Before continuing with my edits, I need to study “Elements of Style” and “Self-editing for Fiction Writers” again.


  3. I was also going to say I don’t agree with all of his edits, but I think this will be a big help to you! And kudos for putting it up here to help us all learn from it!


  4. Thanks, Loraine.
    Plus this is a good record for me in case my mind turns to complete mush and I forget I even went to the conference.


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